CounterBug is a digital self-defence device that eases cyber paranoia - architecture and design

CounterBug is a digital self-defence device that eases cyber paranoia



Glasgow School of Art graduate Erlend Prendergast has designed a modular robotic device that talks back to Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa in order to protect users from digital surveillance.
Prendergast developed the CounterBug project during his final year of study on the Scottish school's Product Design course.

The self-initiated project explores some of the widespread fears and paranoias that exist around domestic spying and digital surveillance.
During his research, Prendergast identified several key concerns consumers face when purchasing and using digital devices.
In particular, he found that the notion of "big brother" surveillance and the modern phenomenon of monitoring people's habits, concerns and preferences in order to assist customised marketing strategies have created a deep distrust in many devices.
The designer examined rituals and behaviours such as covering a laptop's camera with a sticker, before choosing to focus his speculative design proposals on how users interact with Amazon's voice-operated device.
CounterBug responds directly to some of the privacy issues raised by users. It performs tasks that are targeted at disrupting Alexa's ability to gather different types of personal data.

Speaking to Dezeen at the Glasgow School of Art degree show, Prendergast described his proposal as "an alternative approach to digital self defence" that is intentionally "satirical and tongue-in-cheek".
"There is an inherent irony a...
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